Wednesday, 26 May 2010

The 5 Stages of Grief

Continued on from yesterday...

It's funny how your mind operates under stress.

There I was sitting in my car, imploding with grief. Instead of calling my husband (then boyfriend) or Mum for consolation, all I kept thinking was "Who can help me right now?"

My first thought was Kylie.

Not only is Kylie my gorgeous dear friend, confidante and soul-sister, she's also a nurse. Don't nurses know everything 'medical'?

Poor Kylie - I can't imagine what my call would've been like for her that day.

As soon as I heard her voice I began sobbing uncontrollably. I blurted out my diagnosis, my despair climaxing when I was hit with the most disturbing thought - that I may have lost all possibility of having children of my own.


I have images of Kylie skipping along merrily wearing her infectious smile only to have her long distance friend call and dump an emotional bomb on her. If you're reading this Special K, I'm sorry for the distress it must have caused you. I hope that was counteracted by the other shock news phone call three years later - you remember? - the one when I told you I'd won $15,000, had booked flights and you had 1 hour to get to the airport.

Sweet Kylie did her best to console me, but the only consolation I sought was for the clinic to phone back with news that I'd been given the wrong results. They didn't.

I can't remember much after that - only hours of crying, stinging eyes and an ache in my chest. It was excruciating.

At that point, I was in stage one of the K├╝bler-Ross five stages of grief
  1. Denial
    "This is not possible, it can't be happening, they've made a mistake. There must be other answers". This led to frantic searching for solutions, seeking all kinds of alternative therapies; traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, hypnotherapy, Bach flower essences, Reiki, applied kinesiology, NET, CBT, yoga therapy, Ayurvedic medicine, psychic healing, aromatherapy, colon hydrotherapy, crystal healing, dietary healing therapy and meditation - most of which brought back menstruation, but nothing ever permanent or pregnant.

  2. Anger
    "This is not fair, why me? There a so many people 'less healthy' or 'less deserving' than me - people who smoke, take drugs, are alcoholics. How can they get pregnant and become parents so easily? This is bull$hit!!!" I was completely angry and utterly furious with God, the universe, mother nature and anything else that I could put a label on. I questioned my faith in me, my beliefs, everything. I was bitter and unforgiving. I became intolerable of people asking me "When are you going to have kids?" - I either wanted to swear at them or hit them in the mouth with my shoe. I didn't x 2.

  3. Bargaining
    I engaged in conversations with God "I'll pray every day, I'll fast, I'll eat well, exercise, do yoga, meditate, take my medicine, I'll stop drinking caffeine and wine, no more wheat, no more dairy, no more sugar, or salt, no more gluten, I'll only eat low GI foods, I'll juice every day, I'll even do a coffee enema every day - I WILL DO IT ALL (and I've done it all) if you could just please, please, PLEEEEEEAAAASE let my body work so I can have a baby!"

  4. Depression
    Deep, dark and scary. To me this was a loss of lives, the lives of my beautiful yet-to-be-born children. The sons and daughters I had dreamed of, imagined and anticipated. I cried myself to sleep every night. I collapsed in the shower, sobbing on the ground till the water ran cold. I felt pain in my heart and sickness in my stomach every time I heard news of someone becoming pregnant. I could not look at pregnant bellies. I could not stand hearing women complain about being pregnant (I want to punch them in the nose - seriously). I could not hold babies without tears welling in my eyes and my lips quivering. I was in constant pain. It felt like an elephant sitting on my chest. I was aching all the time. I felt I was going insane. I was once so disturbed by my upset that I wished someone I disapproved of would miscarry - how horrible, judgmental and inhumane is that? (thankfully that wish was not granted).

  5. Acceptance
    One day I decide I cannot go on living my life in chronic anguish and yearning. I choose to be okay. I am okay. I became an aunt. I realised I can still have children in my life, it's just going to be different to what I first imagined. I had a dream that dictated words for a manuscript. It was a blueprint for a children's book. I spent nine months and four days to create and deliver a book that (without my knowing) turned out to be the physical manifestation of all my maternal love for my unborn babies. Every time I hear news of a child loving my book I feel a connection. My maternal flame is lit. I feel I have made a difference. I am happy. I am a mother.
September marks 10 years since that fateful day. A decade.

This has been the most difficult thing for me to write and the most freeing. I am sobbing once more. I will sign off for now.

Until tomorrow, be brave and take all five steps when grieving. The fifth one is the best.

Grace xx

PS. At the time of my diagnosis I was told I had gone through premature menopause. The condition is now more commonly known as Premature Ovarian Failure (POF), though it is in transition to being known as Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI). It can affect women as young as 16. While many alternative modalities have theories about how this condition occurs, western orthodox medicine state that there are no known causes.

PPS. For avid followers of Weigh-In Wednesday, click here to see video

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  1. Sending you love and strength my dear Grace.

  2. I was formally diagnosed with POF in 2007, after a year of ignorance and a year of mis-diagnosis (I was first told I had PCOS). I was in denial for 2 years, and now I feel stuck in anger and depression. I have been angry with myself that I am taking 'too long' with the process, and I want to be in acceptance already damn it! Your comments on the stages of grief and acceptance gives me inspiration that I can make it. Thanks!


  3. You seem to have invented a 6th stage: Corraggio! Brava!!

  4. I love you xoxoxox You're an inspiration.

  5. Grace - a friend of mine from around the corner was also diagnosed with the same thing and was told by a very reputable gyno that she could never have kids. 5 yrs later, she has 3 of her own kids!! NEVER give up. Griffo

  6. You can Wendy - it's not easy, but you can. xxoo

  7. I haven't given up hope, but I have given up the struggle. I am moving on with my life and taking advantage of the fact that I don't have children by living a lifestyle that full of travel, French language lessons and Bollywood dancing. There has to be some perks. xx

  8. Excellent answer Grace. I haven't given up hope, but I have given up the struggle. You sound like you have really got the right attitude to keep you sane and healthy. You have to let go some time to the expectations you might have had- they are pointless and a total waste of emotional energy. Put it towards Bollywood dancing and travel etc. I am with you all the way!

  9. love you Grace


  10. Facebook Comments:

    "I would venture to guess that you won't have writer's block for much longer, as it seems this is what was dying to come out. Let 'em flow!"

    "Thank you for sharing. xx"

    " ♥ "

    "Such a brave post Gracie, a true inspiration. All my love. xx"

    "Thank you for your words of wisdom. I only have 2 more stages to go."

    "brave and beautiful writing Grace. You are an inspiration x"

    "Wow Grace! very touching and a tad confronting for me. What a decade- glad you've found your way through. Love you lots xx"

  11. Hi Grace, I just wanted to connect with you to let you know that I have been using scrapbooking as a way to get through my stages...I am not sure where I am at...perhaps anger heading out of denial or maybe I am in But I was diagnosed formally last year with POF, although I self-diagnosed myself two years prior. I have been, like most of us, fighting with the medical system to get proper treatment. I think it is wonderful what you are doing for us POF'ers.
    Please check out my blog

  12. Oh my goodness Diana, that's amazing. You know I went to your blog months ago and LOVED IT! You are so creative and I LOVE your logo at the top.

    Naughtily, I didn't save it as a bookmark and it was one of those days when I researched dozens of websites and couldn't remember how I landed in the first place.

    I have since tried a number of times to find you again and voila! here you are. You've made my day.

    Thank you.

  13. Now that I have gotten over my initial stages of total joy in finding you and Scrap Your Life, I just want you to know that you're still in the early stages of it all. Allow yourself to be and feel all that comes up for you. Suppression is so unhealthy. It's great that you use scrap booking as your creative expression. xx

  14. Hi Grace
    Thanks for being so inspirational. I have POF also. I'm an aussie living in San Francisco. I've just started blogging too, sharing what health tips I've learnt have worked for other women, but not myself yet. Maybe it can help even one person out there, and people and share their advice also. Take care, Mary

  15. Hi,

    I was diagnosed a few years ago then miraculously got pregnant but miscarried. I've since gone onto Climagest as doctors advised I should. I thought I'd dealt with this but I find that I haven't and have even this week been down and in floods of tears. I want to keep hope alive and yet I don't want to because of the sadness I have inside that never really goes.

    1. Hello Anonymous,
      The pain or sadness may never go away completely - but it is possible to live a full, happy and amazing life. Life deals us cards and it's how we play them that makes the difference. We can get stuck in the upset, or choose to take advantage of our situation. As a result of my 'condition' my husband and I live and work in France for 6 months a year, and Australia the other half. It's an incredible lifestyle that we can enjoy BECAUSE we don't have kids. I am still surrounded by children whom I love, my nephews, nieces and godchildren, yet I get to live an amazing life because I can. It took me a decade to reach this point, but it is possible.
      Love Grace xx


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